Where’s Icarus?Posted: December 4, 2011
She tries to take it all in. The sea. The ships unfurling their sails. Peaces is upset. She sees him. Covered in a feathery vestige, performing what looks like a preflight checklist takeoff. What a bumbling idiot. Where does he think he’s going? The sun? This is got to be a joke.
He starts counting. One… Two.. Three…. Counts more steps. Carefully Measuring the length of the “runway” before him. Her face tightens up. Cheeks blush. A downward glance. No eye contact. The telltale signs of embarrassment. Flashing across as it becomes clear that this is not a joke. He’s going to make the jump in that deranged chicken suit. A weak laugh exits her body, releasing what remains of her dignity. She watches as “the man she married, prove to the world he’s a total, utter, absolute, grade A pillock.”
He pushes his feet against the wall. Shuffling them around vainly searching for the perfect placement. Because, obviously, that extra step is all he needs to make it to liftoff threshold. I doubt it made much difference.
Push off, a few long strides, the edge, a jump …………. outstretched arms ………..
Desperate thrashing…. Death?
No one was watching. Maybe they were too embarrassed to look.
I wonder if Duffy saw Bruegel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus* before she wrote Mrs. Icarus? I can almost see the embarrassment on Mrs. Icarus face as she watches her husband make an idiot of himself. Icarus’ leap in the painting was so remarkable in its brevity that I had trouble finding him floundering in the sea. Were those wings made of lead or something? He didn’t even make it to the first ship.
Duffy’s notes were like the other characters in this painting. Most poems were a labor of effort requireing multiple drafts, an occasional rhyme schemes and the addition of more explicit imagery. Like the farmer growing his crops or the shepherd tending to his sheep these poems took effort. Success didn’t fall from the sky.
Sandwiched between these “serious poems” was Mrs. Icarus. One Page. Thirty-Two, words scrawled in thick black ink on a slightly yellowed sheet of paper. 6 lines, no strikethroughs. Maybe one edit. “Grade A” looked like it was written in with thinner black pen?
Did this poem just jump out of her head like Icarus and land on the page? Are we missing some of her notes? What’s going on here? Did anyone else have a poem that was written without any edits or marks?
*wikipedia says that the authenticity of the painting has been brought into doubt, and that this may be a good copy of the original